Sassy romance with a dose of new release alerts and book recommendations.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Clarisse Writes | I have a podcast now!

It's truth time.

I've been in a rut for the past four months or so. By rut, I mean I haven't been able to write or to even enjoy all the things I used to be beyond passionate about (including reading and K-pop and just everything fun and good in the world).

In her newsletter, total girlboss Arianne Serafico talked about doing something creative for the sake of being creative. She talked about starting something without considering the ROI or numbers or sales or all that other stuff that's usually important but distracts you from the actual process. It occurred to me that maybe her idea could help me, too.

Initially, I wanted to start vlogging, but once I took into account all the preparation and resources involved, I realized it wasn't for me. Starting a podcast turned out to be the perfect option. I know it's still difficult, but I found this app called Anchor through Gary Vaynerchuck, and it makes the whole process a thousand times simpler.

My podcast is called Clarisse Writes. In it, I hope to talk about books and movies and other pop culture stuff in a snarky and hopefully entertaining manner. Not the best branding statement. I'm aware it should be more specific, but if I thought more and more about it, I might get bogged down in the little details and end up not getting started at all.

In Episode 1: Intro and March 2018 TBR (Living a Good Life and Secret Princes), I talk about all the things I intend to read this March. I hope you can give it a listen. Feedback will definitely be appreciated.

So, without further ado, here's the first episode of my podcast in all its imperfect glory:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Five Goals for 2018

2017 was a mixed bag of this-is-so-amazing and when-will-this-end experiences. I achieved several milestones during the year, but at the same time, I couldn't wait for it to end, you know?

This might sound naive, but I honestly have a good feeling about 2018. Maybe it's because I'm closer to thirty than twenty now. I feel more comfortable in my own skin, and I'm learning to stop caring so much about things that don't really matter.

But no matter how old I get, there are certain things I'll always care about. This 2018, I intend to focus more on the things that make me feel alive. Here are some of my goals:

1. Read 50 books.

Last year, I told myself that I would read 100 books. It seemed like such an easy task—one I'd accomplished several times before—but I'd forgotten to take things like being an indie author, my day job, my mental health, and other adult responsibilities into account. By the time October rolled around, it was obvious I wasn't going to meet my target, and I became so frustrated with myself.

I don't want to make the same mistake, so I readjusted my target for 2018. 50 seems like a challenging number, but it's still doable.

2. Finish writing two books.

Truth time.

In 2017, I released two books, namely Keeping the Distance and Making It Complicated. While I consider that a great accomplishment, I got so caught up in the business and marketing end of self-publishing that I barely had time and energy to, well, write. Yes, that’s right. I didn’t finish writing a single book last year.

That shouldn’t be the case. At all. I love learning about branding and social media marketing, but at the end of the day, I’m doing this whole indie author thing, because I LOVE writing. So, writing is definitely moving to the top of the priority list.

3. Explore more.

People often associate the word “explore” with travel. While I’d love to do more of that this year, that’s not all I mean when I use the word. I want to step out of my comfort zone and discover new things. Places, people, movies and books that I normally wouldn’t consider “my thing.”

4. Save more money.

I’ve developed a bit of an addiction to the Shopee app recently. It’s so easy to scroll through it and click Buy Now whenever I see a perfect oversized denim jacket, especially when the prices are so low.

However, when the end of the month arrives, I’m always surprised by the total amount I’ve spent on the site and on other things I didn’t really need. This won’t surprise anyone, but all those so-called cheap purchases do add up.

Moving forward, I’d like to be more mindful of my money and how I spend it.

5. Do something that scares me.

Hi. I’m Clarisse—one of the most risk-averse overthinkers you’ll ever meet. If there’s a chance that something will scare/hurt me, I’ll try to avoid it as much as possible, even if it’ll reap long-term benefits. I used to consider it self-preservation, but I’ve slowly learned that my behavior isn’t exactly the healthiest. Ahem.

What about you? What are your goals for 2018? I’d love to hear about them. You can leave a comment here, or you can tell me on Twitter or on Instagram.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Excerpt | Making It Complicated (I Heart Iloilo #2) by Clarisse David

Hi, guys!

In case you missed it, Making It Complicated (I Heart Iloilo #2). is now available for pre-order. You can purchase your copy HERE.

Since you can't see a preview of a book on Amazon before release day, I thought I'd share the first chapter with you--to give you a sneak peek of what the book is about.


Here we go.

Chapter One

"You're pretty when you try."

The words hit me like a vicious wave of saltwater. I squinted to get a better look at Paul Hidalgo, his face framed by pink and purple neon lights from the stage behind him and the blanket of night beyond it. My arms which had been moving in rhythm with the music pulsing around us stilled.

We met last year and somehow ended up at the same outdoor party in Boracay this summer. He was beautiful in the preppy, rich boy way I liked. Hair styled to perfection, expensive silver watch on his wrist, and a body perfected in a gym with a monthly membership fee that would make you weep.

I would've called it kismet until five months ago.

When I still believed in such things.

Now, it was just another night in a string of nights that made my nineteenth year an epic disaster.

Of its own accord, my hand reached up and pushed against Paul’s chest, causing him to stumble on his over-worked legs. His ass landed on the damp sand with an unsatisfying thump. A circle of onlookers formed around us.

“What the hell, Cam?” Paul pushed himself up off the ground, his yellow board shorts and legs now covered in sand.

“Are you saying I need to try to be pretty?” My voice rose above the remixed pop song to which we were dancing. The wind whipped my short hair around my face, and I let it. “Well, you’re a decent human being…when you try. The rest of the time, you’re a waste of perfectly good oxygen.”

I whirled around to leave, ready to push my way through the crowd of gyrating bodies, but Paul’s hand wrapped itself around my arm and tugged me back. My feet slid against the soft sand.

“You don’t get to walk away after pulling something like that.” Paul’s grip tightened. “Who do you think you are?”

“I’m Camille Velasco, the girl who’s going to make you regret it if you don’t let go of my arm.”
I pulled. He refused to budge.

I made a mental note to steer clear of preppy, rich boys in the future as I grabbed a beer bottle out of a dancing Korean girl’s hand an arm’s length away. Her eyes flew open. She tried to make a grab for the bottle, but she was too late.

I reached up and tipped the remaining liquid over Paul’s head. Beer splashed over the glorious hair I had wanted to run my fingers through less than five minutes ago. Strands stuck in clumps to his forehead. The golden liquid dripped down his nose and rendered his white designer T-shirt transparent.

Before he could react, I slipped out of his loosened hold and pushed my way through the crowd, one dancing, sweaty body after another. A mix of catcalls, howls, and a few boos followed my wake. To be honest, I was more scared of the girl I’d stolen the beer from than anything Paul was capable of.

Hell hath no fury like a girl whose liquor had been wasted.

I made my way to the drinks booth, placed my money on the counter, and waited for my poison of choice—an ice-cold rum coke with a bendy straw—to be served. Not wanting more bad karma sent my way, I pointed out the girl from earlier and asked that another beer be sent to her. Behind me, a gigantic green and orange balloon plastered with the party’s sponsor’s logo hovered in mid-air.

The music continued to swirl around me, and all I wanted to do was lose myself in the neon lights that flashed behind my eyelids every time I blinked a little too long. As I sipped my drink, I tipped my face up to the night sky and the palm trees swaying above me.

I wanted the recklessness that came after a few drinks too many.

I wanted oblivion.

I wanted—

Anything but a phone call from my best friend. My phone vibrated as Melissa Ortiz’s face smiled up at me from the screen, bright and blinding with a white lace headband around her mane of perfect hair. I stuffed it into the pocket of my denim shorts and hoped that this time she wouldn’t be so damn persistent.

No such luck.

My phone stayed still for a beat but vibrated again right away. I sighed. Sipping my drink, I walked away from the party to a spot near the water where I wouldn’t have to scream into my phone. Once nestled beside a towering sandcastle, I answered the call. “Miss me already?”

“I know, I know, you’re on a paradise island surrounded by a ton of shirtless guys,” Melissa said, her tone sounding almost wistful. “You don’t have time to talk to me.”

I have all the time in the world. I just don’t have anything to say.

Melissa and her boyfriend, Lance, had been together for over a year, and they were still text-you-good-morning and no-you-hang-up-first in love. Maybe it shouldn’t have been surprising once I took her angelic face, fairy princess wardrobe, and spine of steel into consideration.

I wanted to be happy for her.

Truly, I did.

But a huge part of me didn’t believe in the same things she did anymore, in finding such utter bliss with another person and trusting they weren’t going to rip you apart. I didn’t have the energy for that.

Not after everything.

“Of course I do. I always have time to talk to you.” The words sounded fake even to me.

“Really, Cam?”

“Really, Mel.” I stretched my legs out, getting comfortable. On the other line, I could hear conversations buzzing around my best friend and the notes of a jazz song. “You still aren’t home? Look at you still out by 9:30. Hasn’t your father called the cops yet?”

“I’m with Lance,” Melissa said, practically giggling. “Papa trusts him now. A little.”

I listened to her talk about the life I ran from so desperately back in Iloilo City—all our classmates’ college plans and the get-togethers they had scheduled throughout the summer. I didn’t want to be a part of any of it.

This island, small and tourist-filled, was going to be my home. At least, for a little while.

Before me, water stretched out in the darkness as far as the eye could see, seemingly endless with a boat or two breaking up the monotony. Behind me, restaurants and bars lined the beachfront. They beckoned customers with flashy advertisements of promos for drinks and delicious meals. Korean, English, and all sorts of languages filled the air.

Being here made me believe I could peel off the old Cam like a second skin and become someone completely new.

“Cam, are you still there?” Mel’s worried voice snapped me back to reality.

I sighed. “Yeah, I’m here. Sounds like you have the whole summer figured out.”

“It won’t be the same without you, though,” Mel replied, and I could tell she meant it.

I closed my eyes, my fingers clenching tighter around my phone. Her sincerity almost made me sit up straight and chuck my phone into the sea.

It was so easy for Mel to say that things weren’t going to be the same without me. Didn’t she realize that nothing was ever going to be the same for me? Resentment filled my chest, threatening to swallow me whole, even if I knew it was wrong to feel that way.

“Mel, I have to go.” I hung up before I could say something the two of us would regret.

And that was the moment I chose to open my eyes and found a guy staring down at me.

Instinct took over. My palm closed around a handful of sand, which I hurled to his face. Sand rained down on the two of us. I sat up straight so fast, he stepped back and tripped on his feet.

The guy collapsed on the sandcastle beside me. Its fancy turrets crashed around him in a barrage of powder and sandy clumps. As the crashing waves almost drowned out his muttered curses, I slid away from him on my hands and feet. My pulse raced as I rose up on unsteady legs, ready to get the hell out of there and get some help.

“Don’t you remember me?” He wiped away sand from his mouth with the back of his hand.

Our eyes met, and my pulse slowed. I took in the messy faux-hawk, the deep-set eyes that looked at me with confusion, like I was a song he’d forgotten the lyrics to. His mouth, one that belonged on a movie star, curled up at one corner. If I hadn’t decided to stop taking photos, I would’ve wanted to capture his face right there and then, with the moonlight highlighting his stark angles.

I knew him in the vaguest sense of the word.

Hunter Alvarez, the guy Melissa sort of dated before she and Lance became official. Like a brief stop-over before the actual destination.

Second boy to fall at my feet in one night.

For all the wrong reasons.

I was on a roll.

“It’s a good thing you and Mel never actually got together,” I found myself saying.

Still sprawled on top of the ruined sandcastle, Hunter’s eye’s widened. “Why?”

“You have that serial killer vibe.” Sometimes, my mouth refused to take orders from my brain and went on solo missions.

To my surprise, Hunter threw back his head and laughed. “I’m not a serial killer.”

“Exactly what a serial killer would say.” I stood up, finger-combing sand out of my hair.

Hunter stood up too. He stretched his arms over his head to let me see I hadn’t done much damage, his Ramones T-shirt riding up to reveal a sliver of a six-pack that made my fingers itch to touch. I refused to look away. What was the point? Life was too short to not appreciate a hot guy on a sultry, summer night.

He glanced up at me. It was suddenly very clear to me that we were on a booze-laden island, and that I found him very attractive, despite his history with my best friend. He didn’t look like the kind of guy who worked out in a gym. No, he looked like a guy who got muscle definition from hammering…things, deliciously sweaty all the while.

When he stared down at the remains of the sandcastle, a furrow formed between his brows. “I wanted to take a photo for Tessa.”

“Your girlfriend?” Asking such a transparent question was a rookie mistake, but I failed to stop myself in time.

The look in Hunter’s eyes told me he was aware of the electricity coming to life between us. One corner of my lip turned up in cocky answer.

Hunter bridged the distance between us in a few, quick steps. “No, my little sister.”
My defenses went up as fast as a camera’s shutters snapping shut. Guys who took photos of sandcastles for their little sisters were sweet. I didn’t do sweet.

“Oh.” I backed up a few steps. “That’s nice.”

“Nice?” He rolled the word around his tongue, like he was testing it, then smiled. “That doesn’t sound like a compliment coming from you.”

It was my turn to toss my head back and laugh. “You’d be surprised how nice I can be.”
We drank each other in, the air between us heavy with the possibilities the night held. There were so many things I wanted but refused to let myself have—especially not with this guy who thought of his little sister when getting drunk and partying should’ve been easier in this place. I broke eye contact first and glanced at the glittering row of bars behind me.

But Hunter grasped at our connection and pulled. “Show me.”

“What?” My eyes snapped back to his.

“Tonight. Show me how nice you can be,” Hunter said, his easy smile belying the weight of his words, the dimple on his cheek a warning sign he was trouble.

I raised one perfectly shaped eyebrow. “You’re not getting in my pants, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

His eyes dropped to my tiny denim shorts. His shoulders shook with laughter. When his eyes met mine again, mischief glittered in them. “I’m sure your pants are amazing, but I’ve been stuck in a hotel room with three bandmates—one never stops sleeping, the other can’t stop admiring his own reflection, and the last one keeps locking himself in the bathroom to call his mother. I need a break. You seem like a great person to take the break with.”

“You’re saying you just need someone to show you around?” Something that seemed a lot like disappointment settled in my chest.

“Yes.” He nodded, the easy smile never wavering. “Will you give me tonight?”

© Clarisse David
Maira Gall